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Harish Salve: India's eminent commercial lawyer

Harish Salve- India's best lawyer
“Harish Salve”, the name is enough to define his stature in the field of independent practise in India. People view him as the one who could win the impossible for any client he took on. Mr. Salve was born at Warud in Maharashtra. His father, N.K.P. Salve was a renowned chartered accountant and founder of the Salve & Co. (chartered accountancy firm). His grandfather was a criminal lawyer. So, the law background in the family was already there to assist him through. As a young boy, Mr. Harish wanted to be an engineer but by the time he developed an interest in Chartered Accountancy. He started preparing for the exam. His father used to work with Nani Palkhivala, one day his father requested him to prepare a note on some complicated point in relation to the new provisions establishing the Settlement Commission which was related to some case, Mr Salve prepared the note and his father was that much impressed that he showed it to Nani Palkhivala, who after going through the note asked him, “So when are you joining the profession?” It was Palkhivala who inspired him to become a lawyer but his father wanted him to pursue the family business of Chartered Accountancy and look after the firm Salve & Co. set up by his father in Nagpur. In 1980, Mr. Salve got enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi and left accountancy as he was no longer interested in pursuing it. In order to establish his practise in Delhi he first joined J.B. Dadachadji & Co. as an intern. While interning he got the chance to assist Mr. Palkhivala in Minerva Mills case. Later he joined the Chambers of Soli Sorabjee.


The first case that Mr Salve argued was of Dilip Kumar[i] in the year 1975 with his father. When he was working at the chambers of Soli Sorabjee, he got the chance to argue before Supreme Court bench in the Bearers Bond case[ii]. In 1992, Mr. Harish was designated as a senior advocate by the Delhi High Court. His clients involve some of the biggest businesses of our country like TATA, RIL and many other people. Mr. Salve successfully defended Keshub Mahindra in the Union Carbide case by filing a curative petition in the Supreme Court.

Mr. Salve has also been appointed Amicus Curiae (a friend of the court) in many cases including Environmental and Forest Conservation case and also the Delhi Vehicular Pollution case. Mr. Salve was appointed Solicitor General in the year 1999 during the NDA regime. During this he handled many important cases like that of Tamil Nadu Water Dispute. Till 2002, he worked as the Solicitor General. His name is also related to the famous Vodafone case[iii]. Winning this case turned Mr. Salve into an invincible lawyer. In this case Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Bombay High Court and decreed that Indian tax authorities don’t have the territorial jurisdiction to impose tax on offshore transactions. He also argued on behalf of India in the Kulbhushan Yadav case in ICJ, Hague.

Mr. Salve is that apex point where every independent lawyer wants to reach but only few succeed. His way of argument is the best structured way to proceed in a case. His skills of Chartered Accountancy helped him to become an eminent commercial lawyer in India also he is very comfortable while dealing with numbers which helped specialized in taxation matters. Nani Palkhivala is the inspiration for him.

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[i] Income Tax Officer v. Dilip Kumar alias Yousuf Khan.
[ii] R.K.Garg v Union of India, (1981) 4 SCC 675.
[iii] Vodafone International Holdings B. V. v. Union of India

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